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That Holmes-Watson duo dethroned a skyscraper-scaling Tom Cruise on the weekend as Warner Bros.’ Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows claimed the foreign theatrical circuit’s No. 1 box office spot for the first time with a weekend tally of $44.9 million drawn from 8,110 locations in 51 offshore markets.
Strong No. 1 openings in Australia ($6.65 million at 254 locations) and in Spain ($4.7 million from 367 spots) helped thrust director Guy Ritchie’s sequel costarring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law to the top. In all, Shadows opened in a dozen fresh territories, lifting its foreign gross total to $180.6 million.
Warners said the sequel’s tally is 18% ahead of original 2009 Sherlock Holmes ‘s “for the same markets at the same point in time of release.” Openings in Argentina, Brazil and China are on tap this week.
No. 2 on the weekend was 20th Century Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which claimed $31 million from 7,096 sites in 63 markets, and pushed its overseas gross total to $129.8 million. A first-place Brazil finish drew $6.7 million from 541 locations for the third installment of the computer animation franchise about singing chipmunks.
Falling to No. 3 on the weekend — after three weekends in the foreign circuit’s top spot — Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol has logged total foreign box office of $289.9 million since it opened overseas on Dec. 14. The weekend generated $29.5 million from 6,776 situations in 54 territories.
The high-octane sequel starring Tom Cruise remained No. 1 in holdovers in such key markets as the U.K. ($3.4 million from 517 sites), Japan ($3.5 million from 344 spots) and in Korea ($3.2 million from 649 locations).
Fox opened The Iron Lady, the biopic of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher starring Meryl Streep, in the No. 3 spot in the U.K. Debut for the Pathe/Film 4/Canal Plus coproduction came up with a weekend tally of $5.7 million from 685 screens in the U.K., New Zealand and Spain.
Also introducing itself overseas was Warner Bros.’J. Edgar, director Clint Eastwood’s portrait of the legendary FBI chief with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. A No. 2 opening in Italy yielded $4.2 million from 416 screens. Weekend in six markets (besides Italy, Finland, The Netherlands, Israel, Mexico and Puerto Rico) generated $4.9 million.
The International box office universe – covering revenues for major Hollywood studio releases plus non-studio-related local-language productions – reached $20 billion in 2011, according to figures compiled by Fox International. (Of that, the major studios logged a combined total of $13.5 billion, a new record.)
The 2010 international box office total was $18.5 billion, as per Fox. Local-language market action was particularly strong last year in France, Korea and Japan. The 2011 box office surge in China was largely attributed to U.S. imports.
A trio of foreign-generated productions grossed more than $100 million last year overseas. Oscar-winner The King’s Speech, coproduced by The Weinstein Co. and the U.K. Film Council, among others, drew nearly $270 million offshore. The Three Musketeers in 3D from Germany’s Constantin Films bagged nearly $120 million outside the U.S. and Canada.
Best of the French titles was, by far, Gaumont’s Intouchables, the market’s biggest grosser of 2011 and a genuine box office phenomenon.
The comedy about the prickly relations between a wealthy quadriplegic and a caretaker with a shady past has drawn $146 million over 10 rounds in France alone, and remains in the market’s No. 1 spot (with an estimated $4.5 million generated on the weekend from 809 locations). Intouchables also opened via Senator No. 3 in Germany on the weekend, taking $2.8 million from 157 locations.
Currently, the No. 1 title in Italy on the weekend is Medusa’s Immaturi 2 (The Immature), director Paolo Genovese’s local-language comedy about a half dozen 30-somethings, friends in high school, reuniting. Opening market launch registered $7.8 million at 597 spots.
No. 4 on the weekend was DreamWorks Animation’s Puss In Boots, which flew past the $300-million overseas gross mark ($312 million) thanks to an $18.5 million weekend at 5,645 locations in 45 markets. It finished No. 1 in Austria and No. 2 in Germany in the fifth round in both markets. Paramount is the overseas distributor.
Sony’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo grossed $12.2 million from 2,178 screens in 32 territories with a seven-day launch in Russia claiming $6.6 million from some 600 sites, and the No. 5 weekend spot.
Director David Fincher’s interpretation of the Swedish thriller premiered No. 1 in Hong Kong ($470,000 from 36 locations for more than $13,000 per-screen average) and in South Africa. Cume stands at $29 million.
Fox’s release of The Darkest Hour, a Russia-set sci/fi-horror outing, opened in 17 markets, and drew $5.8 million overall from 2762 screens in 31 territories. Overseas cume stands at $16.9 million.
Sony/Paramount’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn also bagged $5.8 million ($3.1 million from Sony-handled territories, $2.7 from Paramount markets) from a total of $2,407 venues in 82 markets. Foreign cume stands at $272.1 million.
Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg’s other release out overseas, War Horse handled by Disney, drew a weekend tally of $2 million from four markets, pushing its early foreign total to $7.6 million.Rubbeldiekatz, the German-language romantic comedy distributed by Universal in German-speaking Europe, drew 2.8 million on the weekend from 677 sites in three markets, lifting its cume to $15.1 million.
Making its Russia and Ukraine debuts via Paramount was director Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which collected a total of $3.3 million from 704 venues in three markets. Cume stands at $4 million from Paramount-handled territories. In the U.K. via Entertainment Releasing, Hugo has collected a market cume of $7.7 million in six weeks.
Fox’s We Bought A Zoo, director Cameron Crowe’s family drama costarring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson nudged its foreign gross total to $13.5 million thanks to a $2.6 million from 1,279 screens in 14 territories.
Other international cumes: Disney’sThe Muppets, $10.7 million; Sony’s Arthur Christmas, $100.2 million; Universal’s Tower Heist, $61.2 million; Disney’s Real Steel, $207.4 million; Fox’s In Time, $106 million; Immortals, $31.5 million (from Universal-handled territories only); DreamWorks/Disney’s The Help, $35.7 million; Mars Distribution’s Une vie meilleure (A Better Life), opened No. 4 in France with $1.75 million drawn from 223 spots; Disney’s The Lion King 3D, $74.3 million; and Universal’s The Change-Up, $37.7 million.
Also, Sony’s Jack and Jill, $20.5 million; The Weinstein Co.’s The Artist, $18.5 million; Focus Features/Universal’s One Day, $42.9 million; A Dangerous Method, $7.2 million in Universal-handled markets only; Focus Features/Universal’s Jane Eyre, $20.9 million; The Weinstein Co.’s My Week With Marilyn, $5 million; Focus Features’ Beginners, $8.6 million; and Focus Features’ The Conspirator, $4 million.
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